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Westminster council OKs proposal on Civil War sites City would join 3 counties in tourism promotion plan


Westminster officials have agreed to join a three-county effort to lure tourists to sites that played a supporting role in the drama of the Civil War.

The Common Council voted Monday night to participate in a proposal by Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties to seek heritage tourism recognition from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority. Recognition will allow the three counties and participating towns to qualify for grants financing Civil War-related projects.

The idea is to tap the lucrative historic tourism movement by getting tourists who have visited the Gettysburg or Antietam battlefields to retrace troop movements, marches and bivouacs.

"We hope they might possibly stop and have lunch or stay overnight," said Barbara Beverungen, county tourism director. "We're trying to say, 'It's not just the major battles.' "

An estimated 10,000 soldiers marched through Westminster, and marched through Carroll County during the Civil War. Trainloads of mules arrived at the city's railroad station.

Union and Confederate troops on their way to the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 camped at the Union Mills Homestead, nine miles north of Westminster.

In Carroll County, a self-guided driving tour, developed by tourism officials, leads visitors through the towns where soldiers marched, many of them on the way to the Battle of Gettysburg. Officials are creating a brochure for a Civil War walking tour of Westminster, which will identify locations such as the site of a skirmish at East Main Street and Washington Road on June 29, 1863.

The two-year-old Maryland heritage tourism and preservation program is designed to help communities protect and promote their resources.

Washington and Frederick counties began planning to apply for heritage tourism recognition, but invited Carroll to join after learning of the driving tour, Beverungen said.

She envisions a local citizens committee that could review proposals for projects from the towns. The committee would forward proposals to a regional committee for possible grant financing, she said.

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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